Canadian History

Canadian history, pre 20th Century

The history of Canada began long before Europeans set their sights on this immense land. Prehistoric tribes having crossed the Bering Strait thousands of years before had been settled on the land and creating distinct cultures. Somewhere around 1000 AD Vikings landed in Newfoundland and tried to settle in, but soon left after hostilities with the tribes ceased to be resolved. For another four hundred years or so, Canadian aboriginal were left alone to cultivate different languages, religious practice, arts, and government.

The early history of immigration to Canada began in the 15th Century when Europe again took interest in claiming the land for themselves. Expeditions were made to search for riches and the Northwest Passage, with little result. Still, explorer Jacques Cartier decided to make the first claim in the area around the St. Lawrence River, what is now part of Quebec.

Samuel de Champlain, another explorer from France, founded Quebec City early in the 1600’s. The history of immigration to Canada began again as a fur trade was set up and found great success in the area. At this time the area of settlement in Canada belonged to France. Soon the British came along and founded the Hudson’s Bay Company, adding some competition to the French trade system. Canadian history takes a turn for the worse when British and French settlers turned against each other, much a result from the influence of the Seven Years War in Europe. In 1759 the British defeated the French and the Treaty of Paris sealed the deal that Canada now belonged to Britain.

The French and British continued their feud well into the 19th Century, when finally the British North American Act was made to solidify Canada into the country that it is today. The Canadian Pacific Railway was completed in 1885, further uniting the country together. All provinces were part of the government by 1912, excepting Newfoundland, which joined in 1949.

Canadian history, post 20th Century

The history of immigration to Canada in the modern- day began in great numbers after World War II. More Europeans flooded into the country: Italians, Irish, Greeks, as well as continuing numbers of French and British. A second wave of immigrants came in the 1960’s, mostly consisting of Asians, Hispanics, Indians, Caribbeans, and Arabs. Canada was becoming the Mosaic of people that it is today.

The history of Canada wouldn’t be complete without a bit more tension between French and English descendents. In the 1960’s the Parti Quebecois (the political party of Quebec in favor of separating from the rest of Canada) won the provincial election. Quebec did not in fact separate, but it came close in 1995 when only a few thousand votes were short of a decision to succeed. Since then opinions about Quebec separation have been up and down, though the overall popularity of the idea has waned.

In recent history of Canada, the 2006 elections brought a change for the long-reining Liberal government. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was elected, a member of the Conservative party. Canadians are anxious to see what changes, if any, this new government will bring to their country.

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